When I am in a yoga class and the teacher begins to set up her intention for class, in my head I am saying “Don’t say gratitude. Don’t say gratitude. Don’t say gratitude.” Lately it seems, though, that she almost always says “I am suggesting the intention of, inhale, exhale, gratitude.” Often at the end she (whoever the she is) tells a story about being grateful that she can do a headstand or grateful that she’s not good at bridge pose but has been getting into it very easily lately. Maybe she hates twists but they’ve been really helpful when she tries to do side crow! And I am thinking: “Horray! Yahoo! Ramalamadingdong!” as I roll my internal eyes. As I told you in the last post: I am an ass hole.
It’s not gratitude that has me rolling my internal eyes. It’s not even these lovely yoga teachers with their painted-on pants and complicated sports bras and somehow perfect hair despite 105 degree heat. In fact, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em (more on that later)–not that I am trying to “beat ’em.” It’s just that they almost always say gratitude and when I hear the reasons they’re grateful, I know there’s more they’re not telling us. I realize they may have to tie their “reasons” to yoga, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, we get a juicy story or a TMI confession. Sometimes we hear stories from their lives and why they’re actually grateful to be standing here in this yoga-utopia teaching because shit was hard before and now it’s better. Those are the tidbits I’m grateful for. I feel gratitude for people being real. For realz.
I love gratitude. I enjoy writing thank you notes and I always want people to know when I am grateful. I also thrive on others acknowledging their appreciation for me–is that childish? Oh well. I just bought an awesome wall sticker from the Dollar Tree that I hung in my classroom that says “be grateful.” See? I’m not that much of an ass hole. I think my issue with the canned-yoga-gratitude-intention is that I am lucky enough to have real gratitude and I ain’ got time for these fluffy reasons for it. Saying you’re so grateful you can do a headstand just doesn’t make me join the collective nod after the namaste. Because I am so fortunate. For realz.
I am grateful that 9 years ago this past Wednesday, some drunk idiot hurled a full beer can across the infield of Pimlico during the Preakness Stakes. That idiot had no idea that he (come on, we know it was a he) was creating an eternal partnership. Because that beer can hit Charles “Chas” Arthur Eby IV in the side of his head. And Chas Eby went to the medical tent where they gave him a box-worth of bandaids and told him to head to the hospital for stitches. So Chas Eby, having already paid for his ticket, decided to wait on the stitches but to slow down on the Natty Bohs, you know, for medical reasons. Somewhere between the EMT and an uninsured $800 bill for four stitches in his ear, he found me. And he said, “Do you know that I am a salsa dancing champion?” and then we talked for four hours straight, and then for 9 more years after that. I feel gratitude to have found my absolute perfect partner because of some plastered dingbat’s dangerous idea of a good time.
I am grateful that on Wednesday’s field trip, N found a “callapillar” she named Cynthia. I am grateful that she carried her around for a half hour talking about Cynthia’s unique character traits to anyone nearby. I am truly grateful that I thought to take a video just as Cynthia pooped–not completely sure it was poop–and N starting yelling “My callapillar poop!” That’s the stuff that makes teaching incredible. Watching children from Baltimore City use a map to wander through the woods as many of them feign utter discomfort, made me breathe more deeply because I could tell they loved it. Unfortunately, Cynthia met with a violent death at the hands of B. But, please let me know if you’d like me to send you the video of the callapillar poop. It’s maybe the cutest thing I have ever seen. Gratitude.
I am grateful for my parents. Without getting too mushy, they literally show my sister and me HOW to LIVE. They both live for others. They are socially conscious, intelligent, and just so giving. When asked to treat us like we’re 15 and do favors that parents do for their teenaged children, they never hesitate. This week, while my dad was letting the roofer in my house, my mom was with me at school co-teaching Crochet Club to my girls. When I say thanks to my dad, I get an emoji wearing sunglasses and “LOL, D” which he says means “lots of love.” And if I offer my mom a week off from Crochet Club, she says, “Maybe some things should never be cancelled.” Nancy and Dick have also taught Aubrey and me how to laugh. We eat dinner there every Sunday and giggle constantly. Go ahead, Dad, start crafting your snarkiest comment. Gratitude.
I am grateful for the last 8 months which have quite literally shaken me to the core. A rough time has reminded me of my incredible support network. I wish I were self-actualized enough to say that I am grateful for the hardest parts of the fall and winter–I’m not there yet. But, while my spinning brain kept me awake all night, when I sobbed in the faculty bathroom and tore my fingers to shreds, when I’d go running at 4:30 in the morning just because I was awake and I didn’t know what else to do with my nervous energy, I knew my people were there. I don’t think there’s been a time when I have drawn more from the love of my friends and family than my during my recent struggles. There’s not a person I love who didn’t hug me, text me, call me, write to me, squeeze me (probably wanted to shake me) repeatedly. They ate with me, drank with me, and best of all, helped me do that weird transition from crying into laughing. Now that I am on the other side of it (pretty sure), I can really see how lucky I am. And man, am I grateful.
Here comes a long sentence with a lot of -ing words.
It’s those moments when I am standing in a glacier lagoon with Chas, being told by someone else that I am so obsessed with Aubrey that it’s creepy and how no one will ever get me like she does, it’s not being able to verbalize all my sister is to me, it’s when I am walking down the aisle ahead of a forever friend wearing the same dress as another forever friend, reading my latest note from Steph, driving to Seacrets in January in February talking about the next MVP, listening to Caitlin say “HECK YES,” giving flash tats to my 18 year old male cousin, when I am taking a 3 generations photo, texting Aub and Lauren for the 31st time today, talking to 93-year-old Grandma Frieda about her childhood, rambling to Morgan as she’s cuddling her new dog and admitting “Life is so good,” banging on a drum with Chris’s friends while Chas wears a cookie costume, marching alongside fantastically strong women for several worthy causes, screaming for the Orioles with 17 of my favorite girls, planting succulents with Cindy, watching Piper and Joe’s ears bounce in unison while they trot, walking the three blocks to Chris and Gabby’s, stopping and realizing that I have been friends with Sarah for 25 years, meeting my parents at CVP for their Happy Friday tradition, cheering for Mercy like I am 16, gushing to my Gram about my life as she laughs at all of my jokes, sipping that first IPA of the night, searching for hippos and zebras with Shar, hurting my face muscles by laughing with Mare, Jer, and Katy, blending the perfect smoothie, waking up the morning of the Baltimore Running Festival, snapping the ball to Aiello on the Secret of the Booze, absorbing a podcast with the windows down, maintaining my balance in an asana, analyzing any situation with Skip, eating a homemade chocolate chip cookie, group texting my homegirls about things I would not tell everyone, wrapping a gift I know my mom will love, running with Karen or Becky dishing about everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong, sweating in my own garden amid plants we lovingly try to grow, drinking wine with my book club, booking a flight to somewhere new, teaching and I can see that they get it, opening a card with a long, handwritten note, keeping track of “weirdness points” with Chas, calling my Boosh to say I love you, spending a full day with Darnay and Lauren like it’s 2006, talking a friend through her first armpit waxing experience, partying with my fabulous aunts in Nashville, pretending to be a pirate at a bachelorette party, ranting about politics with Renee, when I am holding Jaiden whose mother I met when we were 14, it’s those moments when I am absolutely breathless with gratitude. For realz. I am so grateful for my people and my circumstances.
So when I finish yoga teacher training in August, if they actually let me teach, I might set the intention of gratitude a time or two. But you better believe my anecdote will not be about some twisty posture. It won’t be about getting my feet above my head or getting my fingertips to my heels. It’ll be about the very stuff of life. It’ll be about humans that make me in disbelief that I am so fortunate–even that dumbass with his flying beer can. Gratitude. No eye rolls.